Explain the different forms of cognitive learning.
In cognitive learning, there is a change in what the learner knows rather than what s/he does. There are two forms of cognitive learning. These are:
(i) Insight learning: It is a process by which the solution to a problem suddenly becomes clear. In a normal experiment on insight learning, a problem is presented followed by a period of time when no apparent progress is made and finally a solution suddenly emerges. In insight learning sudden solution is the rule. Once the solution has appeared, it can be repeated immediately the next time the problem is confronted. Thus what is learnt is a cognitive relationship between a means and an end. As a result, insight learning can be generalised to other similar problem situations.
Kohler performed a series of experiments with chimpanzees that involved solving complex problems. He placed chimpanzees in an enclosed play area where food was kept out of their reach. Tools such as poles and boxes were placed in the enclosure. The chimpanzees rapidly learned how to use a box to stand on or pole to move the food in their direction. In this experiment, learning did not occur as a result of trial and error and reinforcement, but came about sudden Hashes of insight. The chimpanzees would roam about the enclosure for some time and then suddenly would stand on a box, grab a pole and strike a banana, which was out of usual reach above the enclosure. The chimpanzees exhibited insight learning.
(ii) Latent learning: In this type of learning, a new behaviour is learned but not demonstrated, until reinforcement is provided for displaying it. Tolman through his experiment has explained the latent learning. He put two groups of rats in a maze and gave them an opportunity to explore. In one group rats found food at the end of the maze and soon learned to make their way rapidly through the maze. On the other hand, rats in the second group were not rewarded and showed no apparent signs of learning. But later when these rats were reinforced they ran through the maze as efficiently as the rewarded group.
According to Tolman the unrewarded rats had learned the layout of the maze early in their explorations. They just never displayed their latent learning until the Reinforcement was provided. Instead, the rats developed a cognitive map of the maze, i.e., a mental representation of the spatial locations and directions, which they needed to reach their goal.